This is going to be a bit of a departure from the usual fare here at BFB. It’s much more…dorky. And yes, I realize that says something extraordinary about what’s coming, but I still think it’s true. It may not be quite Big Bang Theory dork levels, but that’s simply because I’m probably not going to mention Chewbacca or The Legend of Blood Ninja. Except for in that previous sentence.
I’m a pretty big fan of the FIFA series of games from EA Sports. The latest version is FIFA12 and it’s something that I’m constantly annoying Mrs. The Lady with while she tries to unwind after a long day of not blogging and actually working. So I decided that I’d simulate a season as Pep Guardiola. Might as well do something constructive with my time, right? If we’re so wonderful, if we’re such a good squad, well, FIFA should know that by now and duly let us win everything.
I set the opponents to legendary, but I don’t actually know that that makes a difference given that I won’t be exercising my extremely poor skills against them. The board, however, was also set to legendary, meaning lower amounts of money and more pressure to win. My starting Budget is €51.5m with €90K in weekly wages remaining.
The season starts on July 1. I have no one to loan out as both Keirrison and Henrique are already at their respective clubs while Hleb and Maxwell are already sold because I updated the squad when I joined up. I decided not to include my own created player in the lineup because, well, there’s no need to make it too easy. The ratings in FIFA are always controversial and this year is no exception. We start off the year with:
Messi at 94
Villa 87 (uninjured! yay!)
Afellay 81 (uninjured! yay!)
Ruben Miño 69
The preseason will consist of a Saturday, July 24 friendly at the Camp Nou against Novara, a July 31 away match at Parma, and a final preseason match againt Wolverhampton in Barcelona on August 7. Then it is on to the Super Cup against Madrid on August 14. The return leg is Wednesday July 17 and then we open the league against Malaga on August 21. Let’s see how this goes, shall we?
The board has set me the goal of winning the Copa del Rey and La Liga. FIFA, for those of you who don’t know, has a weird quirk that means you can’t be in the Champions League in your first season in charge. You have to earn your way into it, which is just asinine. So we’re not in it. Ugh. I guess I won’t have that “distraction,” at least.
With the transfer window open, I’m expecting some offers, but the days are ticking by and nothing is happening. I have no need to reinforce my squad, of course, given that I have the best one on earth already and I haven’t transfer listed anyone either. That make some sense, but still, where are the random mega offers for players I haven’t put up for sale? I’m expecting someone like Chelsea to come in offering €80million for Messi.
July 16: Our first transfer offer! It’s from…Real Madrid? Ha. They want Xavi for €32.5m. Let me think that one over quickly…rejected! On July 20 they respond with an improved offer of €38.5m. According to FIFA, he’s worth €30.5m. That’d be a massive win for my transfer kitty, wouldn’t it? Rejected! If they go over €200m for him, I’ll definitely consider it. Consider rejecting it! They’re really blowing the doors off the transfer market here…€46m is their next offer! Rejected!
And we’re about to face Novara. I want to see how these guys play together, so let’s start a full-fledged lineup. Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol (c), Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, and Alexis arrayed in a 4-3-3. The bench consists of Pinto, Mascherano, Thiago, Cesc, Keita, Cuenca, and Fontas. Novara are playing a 4-1-2-1. I don’t recognize any of their players, which is okay. Rinaudo picks up a 12th minute yellow, then Messi scores in the 20th and Alexis gets a quick red card. What the hell, Alexis. Xavi scores in the 59th and both Abidal and substitute Mascherano (on for Puyol) grab up yellows. Cuenca and Keita come on for Busi and Villa, respectively. 2-0 is the final and Messi is given the match ball.
Real Madrid are really pushing for Xavi. Their next offer is a gargantuan €53m. It’ll be their final offer, I’m sure of it. Rejected!
The next match is against Parma and I’ll lineup with Pinto, Montoya, Fontas, Bartra, Adriano, Mascherano, Keita, Cesc, Pedro, Messi, and Afellay. The bench is Miño, Busquets, Thiago, JDS, Pique, Cuenca, and Tello. The final score is Parma 0-2 Barcelona, both goals coming from Lionel Messi. Bartra picked up 2 yellows for his troubles and both Isaac Cuenca and Busquets subbed in (for Afellay and Mascherano, respectively).
I was wrong about Madrid’s intent with Xavi. They’ve gone to €61m. That’s quite an offer. Baby could buy all the shoes he or she wanted, there would be plenty of Daddy Juice for when Baby acts up, and…REJECTED. This has led to another email from Madrid, this time saying they’re giving up. It took them a full month. But it does get us ready for the next match against Wolves. The final warmup before the big day against Madrid. 2-0 final score, goals by Cuenca and substitute Alexis. We’re really gearing up nicely, aren’t we?
So it’s the press conference before the first leg. Do I praise their manager? Do I praise my team? Do I try to unnerve them? It seems time to pull a Guardiola and praise them. To put them on a pedestal to then knock them off. Gotta use cunning! I praise Xabi Alonso, calling him a dangerous opponent. We admire him greatly, I say and I guess no one sees my wink. Abidal asks to be a starter in the next game, that he’s been doing well in the preseason and deserves it. Duh, Eric, duh. Keita too wants a place in the starting lineup, but he’ll only make the bench for this one. Sorry bud.
The big day is here and we line up with Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Alexis, Messi, and Villa. They roll out with Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Di Maria, Cristiano, Ozil, and Benzema in a 4-2-3-1.
The game kicks off and Pepe grabs a yellow in the 19th minute. Sergio Ramos follows in the 42nd…and that’s it. 0-0 after 90 minutes. All to play for in Barcelona! There were also no subs used on either side. That is…odd. My assistant coach is very odd. Tito, what are you doing? Keita is disappointed he didn’t get to play. His morale is probably down. Another press conference on the 16th and I say that we can beat them. Looks even on paper, but good thing we’re not playing them on paper. We’re going to win. Let’s see how the lineup changes.
Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Cesc, Xavi, Pedro, Messi, and Afellay. If only there’d been subs used I could have fresher players.
They come out with the same lineup as before, except replacing Khedira with what is apparently their latest purchase: Bastian Schweinsteiger. Okay then.
Afellay gets injured early and Mascherano picks up a booking before Benzema nets twice and Ozil once to go up 0-3. A Messi goal brings it back to 1-3, but that’s it. A consolation goal and the match is over. At least all 3 subs were used. Villa, Keita, and Fontas came off the bench, but to no avail. Afellay will be out for 5 weeks with a broken metatarsal bone and we’re off to the races in that category too. Why did he play the whole game with a broken foot bone?
La Liga results:
@Malaga: 1-2, goals from Xavi and Keita (Monreal for them), but Keita goes off injured. Ony 1 sub used. I’m starting to hate this assistant who “helps” me out. Keita will be out for 8 weeks with a broken collarbone. That’s harsh. Cristiano has 2 goals already and leads the Pichichi board. In the buildup to the next match against Villarreal, I praise their manager for some reason.
Villarreal: 3-0, goals by Villa (2) and Pedro off the bench. Alexis goes off injured. Villarreal picks up 2 red cards (Angel and Musacchio). All 3 subs are used! Alexis tore his quad and will be out for 8 weeks. This is normal, I suppose.
Awesomely, in midweek, Man United comes in with a €36m offer for Pique. Hahahaha. I…oh man…hahahaha. Also: rejected. Transfer deadline day is here and ManU says “Sorry, but we’re no longer interested in Pique.” Jordi Alba moved to Atletico Madrid. FCB did nothing. Which is humorous given that Sanchez made the move but that doesn’t count. Madrid grabbed up Schweinsteger for €33m it turns out. Guess he was worth it for that silverware they picked up. They also grabbed Lucio for some unknown amount. That’s an odd pick given their depth at that spot. Afellay returns from injury, but will start on the bench. We also got our Copa del Rey schedule and the first match is against Valladolid.
@Real Sociedad: 1-1 and Alves gets injured in the 20th minute…this is getting old, guys. Messi gets the goal and only 1 sub was used. A pattern is emerging. Also Pique got a red card or 2 yellows I can only imagine were stupid. Alves will be out for 6 weeks. Sheesh. Villa tells me he’s happy I believe in him and start him. Okay, cool. You’re welcome?
Osasuna: Fontas gets injured in the 1st minute. Abidal scores in the 15th, followed by Villa in the 27th, Messi in the 63rd, and Xavi in the 72nd. Fontas never subs out. 2 subs used. And yeah, Fontas is out for FIVE MONTHS with a broken tibia. Glad he played 89 minutes on it.
@Valencia: I praise their manager and put Pique back in the starting lineup after his suspension. I have no one else, I suppose. Banega scores in the 34th. Will we react? Answer: no. Nothing happens on our side of the ball. Not even a subsitution and we lose 1-0. WHAT THE CRAP. I have to assume Tito Vilanova is in the hospital at this point because he wouldn’t let this happen. Not Tito.
Now we play Atleti just 3 days later. This is stupid.
Atleti: Mascherano gets a 5th minute yellow, then Xavi scores after 43 minutes. A sub! We used a sub! Now 2! Villa scores in the 74th and then it’s full time. Apparently Atleti bought Amorebieta as well as Jordi Alba. How about that?
Time to check in on the league standings: We’re third at 4-1-1 with 12 goals for and 3 against. RM is top with 16 points while Atleti sit in 2nd with 15. Sevilla in 4th, Malaga in 5th, and Zaragoza rounds out the European spots. Valencia is down in 11th. Glad we lost to them….
@Gijon: I give Thiago his first start. Messi gets a double and we win 1-2, Nacho Cases geting a goal in the 62′ to make it interesting. Good news after the match as well as Keita comes back form injury. Thanks, physios! And more thanks to them at the end of the week as both Alves and Afellay have returned. Now for a miracle Fontas recovery?
@Granada: It’s a Monday night and they’re bottom of the league. Montoya gets the start again as Alves isn’t fit enough. They score in the 15th minute, but Messi pegs back in the 29th. dro grabs the lead in the 61st and the Ighalo equalizes in the 76th to bring some heart ache to Barcelona. We use just 2 subs (Mascherano and Cesc) and seem to move into a 3-4-3, but it costs us the game. The team is now 2 points down on Madrid, who have a game in hand. It’s not looking too solid at the moment even though Messi is second in goals scored and Villa tie 3rd.
Racing: They’re 13th and playing a 4-2-3-1. Can we overcome them? Keia starts off with a st minute goal! First! Keita grabs his second in the 35th minute,Messi the team’s third in the 60th and it’s all over but the final whistle. 3-0! No reason why more subs weren’t used, but 2 is better than none. Sevilla next weekend is looking dicey, as usual, though.
Sevilla: Villa scores in the 14th and 18th minutes to give Barcelona a serious lead. Messi makes it 3 with 51 gone and Pedro 4 with 59. Game over, except Busquets gets the 5th and the team’s first manita of the season. No subs were used, so the team will be exhausted going into the midweek match against Valladolid, but so it goes. Madrid has moved 5 points clear at the top, but it’s not super serious yet.
What IS super serious is that Messi says he’s feeling unsettled at the moment, that “it’s ont easy being in a strange country with the different food and everything else that I have to adjust to, you know?” Actually, I don’t. You’ve been here since you were a wee tyke. FIFA, you’re dumb. Keita also wants to start the game. No problemo, señor.
Valladolid (CDR): I start a light squad because it’s the CDR, except Messi starts and it’s 2-0 by the 28th minute, with Cesc and Messi scoring. Cesc grabs his second and the team’s third in the 64th and Messi makes it 4-0 in the 71st. This one is done and dusted, though again, no subs were used. Stupid assistant. Keita has been crushing it.
Mallorca: The boys are tired from midweek, so the regular starting lineup starts. Messi is getting tired, though, and he’ll have to take a week of rest before Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. Keit ascores in the 13th to continue his frantic awesomeness, while both Pique, Dani Alves, and Mascherano pickup yellow cards. The final whistle comes and another 3 points have been earned. Madrid remain 5 points ahead and it looks like we’ll have to beat them at the Bernabeu to make up some of that distance.
Pique is injured! He had a training ground injury–bruised ribs–and he’ll be out for 9 days. Mascherano will be stepping in to fill his spot, naturally. It’s November now and we’re marching into the brutal end of the season. Bilbao are 12th and it’s do or die every week given Madrid ferocious pace. Sound familiar?
@Athletic Bilbao: The game starts out with a yellow card for Busquets in the 4th minute and then Alexis gets on the score sheet 43 minutes in. Ther’s some subbing, with Adriano coming on for Puyol (what?) and then Muniain equalizes, but within a minute Villa has put us back on top. Within a minute of that, though, Busquets has gone off injured, replaced by Keita. It’s got to be much worse than a broken tibia given that he subbed off. Uh-oh. They sub on Toquero; Adriano panics and immediately picks up a yellow card, but fortunately Toquero does nothing and the game ends 1-2. Phew.
Going into the medical report on Busi I’m assuming he’s faking, that he’s got a bruised butt bone…He’s not faking. He’s got a broken tailbone and will be out for 5 months. I was close! How did he break his tailbone in a game? Did he really roll around on the ground that much? Good thing I rested Keita.
It’s second round CDR time against Valladolid and we’re up 4-0 on aggregate. Time to rest everyone…and Villa preempts me by asking to be benched for a match. No problemo, buddy!
@Valladolid (CDR): I start Ruben Miño for the first time, along with Jonathan dos Santos, Marc Bartra, and Cristian Tello. Messi gets his first rest of the season and is flanked by Afellay and Alexis. This is what they call “playing the B team”…alongside Thiago, Cesc, Adriano, Mascherano, and Montoya. I don’t expect a win; anything better than a 4-0 loss is positive. They score in the 27th minute through Javi Guerra. Xavi comes on in the 58th minute and Dani Alves in the 73rd, but the team doesn’t score and the match ends 1-0 to the home side despite Oscar getting a red card for a second bookable offense in the 81st. We advance anyway. Woohoo! Marc Bartra finds me in the hallway and tells me he’s super stoked that I’m letting him play so much. You’re welcome, little guy. Now get an extra 10 points overall and you’ll play week-in, week-out.
We’ve drawn Athletic Bilbao in the next round of the CDR starting December 20. Damn. I was hoping for another patsy match. I guess I’ll have to invest in the transfer market a few days after that, after all. Time to put the thinking cap on and figure out who to purchase. There are “internet rumors” about Messi wanting to leave despite his agent proclaiming he doesn’t want to go anywhere. We all know that he’s sick of Catalan food (what? who does that?) and wants more Argentine steak. I swear I’ll order it for him.
Zaragoza: A return to our best 11 given the rest between the matches. It’s November 19 and the season is really under way now. Everything to gain, everything to lose. They’re playing an ultra defensive 4-1-4-1. Villa gets an early yellow card and then scores in the 30th minute to put us ahead. He doubles his tally in the 47th to make it 2-0 and then picks up a second yellow and is off. What the hell. Dani Alves scores anyway in the 80th and seals the match while being down a man. I suppose I’ll rest Villa now. Cesc and Cuenca come on, with Messi making a very strange halftime substitution.
Madrid have dropped points in a 0-1 loss to Valencia and it’s a 5 point gap at the top with us having a game in hand going into our Sunday matchup against Getafe. A must win!
@Getafe: Easy to slip up in this one. With no Villa I start Alexis and Pedro on the wings. Messi has to have a good game. Halftime and no score. Mascherano comes on for Keita just after halftime and Pedro nabs a 57th minute goal. A breakthrough! Will there be several more on the way? Nope: 0-1 is the final score. That was a close one! I really don’t get the Adriano for Puyol thing that Tito keeps opting for, but he’s a smart cookie, so it’s hard to argue at this moment.
Levante: They’re in 17th place and this is the match before El Clasico. We can take provisional top spot from Madrid before we head to the Bernabeu. Can we pull it off? Villa scores a 3rd minute goal to settle nerves, but then Tito sends on Afellay for Messi in the 51st to unsettle them. What are you thinking!? Villa picks up yet anther goal in the 68th and the match ends that way, meaning we’re waiting on RM’s finish to the day with David Villa sitting atop the scoring chart with 11 goals, though he is tied with Adrian. Messi has 7 and is below Cristiano’s 9. Piatti and Muniain also have 7.
RM draw and it’s 38 points apiece heading into the big weekend. Can we draw blood? It’s time to unsettle their manager by claiming he is tactically weak (he is!) and remembering that we are the best team on earth. Whatever your early silverware brought you, we can do this thing here.
@Real Madrid: My lineup consists of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Keita, Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro, Messi, and Villa. Mourinho sends out Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Lucio, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Schweinsteiger, Di Maria, Cristiano, Ozil, and Benzema arrayed in the regular 4-2-3-1. Will Lucio be able to deal with our pace? Pepe picks up an early yellow, but then nothing happens until halftime. Coentrao comes on for Lucio (what?) and then Cesc goes on for Iniesta. Keita picks up a booking, Kaka comes on for Ozil and Mascherano replaces Puyol. Messi scores in the 67th minute! The great news is tempered immediately by Villa getting carted off and replaced by Afellay. Sahin comes on for Schweinsteiger in the 82nd and in the 89th Sahin scores a last gasp goal that leaves us feeling gutted. So close.
Villa’s injury is a broken rib that will leave him sidelined for 2 months. Top scorer and out? Terrible news for us at this moment, especially given that we just gave up a lead at the Bernabeu and possibly looked a gift horse directly in its grillpiece. It’s not a pretty place to be, but I’ll take it over some other, worse score line. Rayo Vallecano, our next opponent, won’t know what hit them. Villa’s injury puts him alongside Fontas and Busquets on the dry dock. A sad day when you see that much talent sitting in the stands, but fortunately they’ll all be back before the major part of the season comes along.
Rayo Vallecano: There’s a midweek match against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa to deal with, so I’m going with a slightly weaker lineup. Tello, Cuenca, and Afellay make up the front 3 while JDS, Bartra, and Montoya all have places in the starting lineup behind them. It could get interesting. Rayo are playing a 4-2-3-1 and the team has been susceptibale that…and Cesc scores in the 2nd minute. That helps. Adriano gets booked and maybe it’s dicier than expected…Messi subs on n the 50th and then so does Iniesta in the 69th. They replace Cuenca and Thiago, respectively. In the 85th Iniesta ices it with a goal. 2-0 full time. Nice. Cesc is given MOTM, which is good to see. RM keeps level with a win of their own. Damn.
@Athletic Bilbao (CDR): Pre-match I talk about our previous win, that 1-2 nailbiter and I say we did a good job, fought hard, and deserved to win. We can do it again, folks! Pretty much all of the subs are exhausted from the Rayo match and we’ll be hard pressed to put anyone in. It could be a long night. They too are playing 4-3-3, with Muniain, Llorente, and Susaeta up front. A yellow card for Iraola is the only thing that happens in the first half. Mascherano comes on for Keita in the 51st and immediately after, in the 52nd, Xavi scores! That changes the face of the whole tie! An away goal and its full time, 0-1. Wonderful.
Apparently there’s talk of Messi moving on. I find that unlikely given that he has 4 years left on his contract after this one. I’m offering Marc Bartra an extended contract. I really have no idea why, but I am. 4 extra years and an extra €1,000 per week. Ooh boy! 3 days later he declines it, stating that his wage demands weren’t met. I’ll probably sell him.
It’s the January transfer window now and I think I’ll make some moves. I have €51,612,000 and €90,000 in weekly wages, remember. Gareth Bale pops into mind. He’s only €40m, though his wages are likely to prove to be a hindrance. I could always sell Xavi to Madrid…aaahahaha I crack myself up sometimes. Jordi Alba would be a nice addition as well, but he just made a move until next summer. He’s also only 78 in this game. A tragedy.
A miracle as well: Fontas has recovered from his injury. Wonderful!
Athletic Bilbao (CDR): We meet again, this time at the Camp Nou. Iturraspe is out for them, injured of course. I start a heavy-hitting lineup because we’ve got to do this. 17 minutes in Alexis gives us some more breathing room by making it 1-0, but Llorente scores an equalizer just a minute later. Fernando’s day goes directly downhill howver, as he pickes up a 37th minute red and it’s looking hard for them to overcome this. Toquero will have to play. Puyol bangs in a goal on 39 minutes. Afellay comes on for Pedro at halftime and immediately puts us up 3-1 with a 48th minute goal. Adriano comes on in the 80th and then Xavi seals everything up in the 88th. Amazing!
Real Betis want to take Bartra on loan for the rest of he season and I can’t say no to that. He’s getting no playing time, so he might as well go out on loan.
Wonderful news: Messi says he has no intention of leaving Barcelona. That’s great to hear, kid. You can play in the next couple of games. And by couple I mean 30 straight. I’m putting in a bid for Thiago Silva because it looks like Gareth Bale will be too expensive. Dammit.
We’ve drawn Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the CDR. That’s going to be a tough set of matches. And no wiggle room in the league since Madrid has kept up the pressure there.
@Espanyol: Derbi day! Yay! And also ugh because you know they’ll kick us into the ground. Puyol gets a rest and Fontas takes his place. Abidal is replaced by Adriano and Mascherano steps into midfield for the tired Keita. Afellay asked to play, so play he will. Game kicks off and Galan grabs an immediate yellow. Pedro steals a goal in the 14th minute and then it’s halftime. Abidal comes on for Fontas and then Alexis for Messi. Iniesta scores in the 72nd and Thiago comes on for Pique in a bizarre move in the 76h. Iniesta gets a booking and then there’s the final whistle. Another derbi victory!
Reading wants to take Miño on loan and I say do it. He’ll get playing time and we’ll get some budgetary breathing room.
Sevilla (CDR): It’s a home match and we’ve got to put in a really slid performance against a good squad. Cesc is in the middle and Cuenca up front. Messi sores in the 15th minute and sanchez in the 31st. Pedro comes on at halftime and Adriano in the 55th. Cesc puts it tonight’s result beyond doubt in the 68th with the team’s third, but Perotti grabs one back late. That could be nasty come next week’s return leg.
Betis: They’re 15th, but if we win we go 2 points clear of Madrid, who drew yesterday. Bartra is starting against us and tat could be good if Messi can take advantage of his inexperience. Alexis, Messi and Afellay up front. Alexis scores in teh 14th! Iniesta makes it 2-0 in the 35th and Messi 3-0 in the 63rd and that’s the game. Only Pedro subbed on in the 83rd for Afellay. Going to have some tired legs against Sevilla in midweek. Fortunately we have a 2 goal advantage.
@Sevilla (CDR): Quarterfinal second leg…what to do, what to do. The boy are exhausted, but we have to power through. JDS gets the start at CDM and Cuenca starts up front. Thiago and Cesc take the CAM spots and we’re off. Thiago scores in the 5th! Manu del Moral gets equalizes in the 6th, but no matter, we’re up a bundle now. Cuenca scores in the 58th! Perotti again pulls one back in the 60th, but that’s all anyone can muster and it ends 2-2. Well done, boys!
I’ve signed Thiago Silva for €36.5m and a €150,000 a week in wages. Not bad, I say. I’ve also loaned out Tello to Betis, who is quickly becoming my feeder system.
Malaga: We play a streaking Malaga now. They’ve won something like 5 in a row and they’re moving up the table. Fortunately Cazorla is out as are Mathijsen and Buonanotte. They’re in a 4-4-1-1. Alexis scores in the 8th! Messi makes it 2 in the 43rd and then Koke gets a second yellow just after halftime. It’s over when Keita puts in the back of the net to make it 3-0. FT and another win. Phew.
It’s Villarreal in the semifinals of the Copa. Ouch. We’ve beaten them before and we can do it again, but the boys are getting tired. Fortunately for us we play Villarreal 3 times in a row now, but unfortunately they’re 4th, which means they’ve got the skills to beat us 3 straight times.
@Villarreal (CDR): It’s the semifinals now and we’re looking at a Villarreal team that isn’t playing well at the moment. 2 draws against Sporting Gijon to make it to here in the Copa and then a 3-0 loss to Atleti in the league. Rossi and Ruben start up front for them while Alexis, Messi, and Afellay get the nod for us. Nilmar is inured along with Cani. It takes a bit for the game to get going, but Iniesta scores in the 21st minute. Halftime rolls around and Cuenca replaces Messi. Naturally. Afellay scores in the 67h and then the whistle blows for full time. A wonderful result!
@Villarreal: This time we meet them in the league. They’re lining up exactly the same as before. They must be exhausted. I start Pedro, Messi, and Alexis up front. Messi scores in the 39th and Catala peggs back in the 43. Pedro puts us up 2-1 in the 48th, but Joselu pulls one back in the 65th and that’s how it ends: 2-2. Damn. We’re tied on points with RM again. Shucks.
David Villa is back from injury! Hooray! The transfer window is closed. Just the one signing for us and a couple of loan deals out (Bartra, Tello, and Miño) to get the kids some experience.
Villarreal (CDR): We go in up 2-0 on the scoreboard, which is great news for us. This time Rossi isn’t playing and Ruben is in the starting lineup alongside Joselu. Cani isn’t injured, but still isn’t available. Maybe they sold him. Rossi too? Cuenca, Afellay, and Messi get the nod up front. First action of the game isn’t until…never. Nothing happens. At all. No cards, no goals, no subs. From either team. We qualify for the final! Yay! Weird.
Now it’s time to concentrate on the league for a while as the CDR final isn’t until April 18 (why so early?) against…Real Madrid, of course. And naturally we have Madrid that same weekend (April 21) just like in real life. Hopefully we have the league pretty well in hand by then, but you never know.
Real Sociedad: Villa makes his way to the bench while Alexis and Pedro partner Messi up front and Cesc and Xavi hold down the middle with Keita. Messi scores in the 4th minute, then Pedro in the 16th. Keita wraps it up in the 36th, but Pedro smashes one in in the 44th anyway Zurutuza grabs one in the 51st for Sociedad, but Iniesta makes it a manita in the 71st and Pedro produces a 6 goal smashing in the 77th. Villa makes his return in the 75th and gets some solid playing time. A hat trick for Pedro! Madrid draws with Getafe and we’ve got a 2 point cushion up top.
@Osasuna: Afellay returns to the starting lineup with Villa still recovering from his injury. Pedro takes a seat on the bench while Pique and Puyol play together in defense for the first time in several games. Nekounam puts Osasuna 1 up afer 7 minutes and the half ends exactly like that. Alves and Keita pick up yellows ad then Cesc comes off the bench in the 73rd and scores in the 77th. Alexis picks up a straight red in the 84th and then the match ends.
Valencia: Villa returns to the starting lineup, fully healed from his injury and Pedro accompanies him next to the ever-present Messi. He likes to play. Montoya slots in a right back because that Alves yellow card got him suspended for accumulation. Great timing, buddy! Soldado is injured for them and apparently Sergio Canales still exists since he’s on their bench. Costa is suspended with a red card. Remember, they beat us 1-0 at the Mestalla. Kickoff! Keita grabs an early yellow. Doh! Messi sores in the 21st and then Villa scores in the 30th. Terrible news as iniesta is carted off in the 38th and then Messi scores in the 59th and 74th to really wrap things up. Pedro and Abidal get late yellows and the game is over. Let’s hope Iniesta is okay.
Iniesta is out with a pulled hamstring. 3 weeks in the stands, looking all dapper. Could have been much worse.
@Atletico: With RM hot on our heels (tied on points at 59 after 24 matches) and Atleti in 3rd, it’s hard to imagine this being a more epic matchup between the 2 sides. Villarreal is just 2 points behind Atleti and any loss in momentum for the rojiblancos could drop them in the standings fairly quickly. They have Turan red carded and Amorebieta (who they bought in the offseason) out of the match. Jordi Alba starts on the bench, but the league’s 2nd leading scorer behind Messi, Adrian, starts up front with Falcao in their 4-4-2. The game starts slowly, Keita grabbing a yellow in the 11th…then Cesc scores n the 23rd! Puyol is carded in the 56th and Pizzi equalizes in the 67th. The team reacts! Alexis scores in the 73rd and it ends 1-2. Vital points.
It’s midweek and Sergio Busquets has been declared fit. He’s not match fit, though, and will take an extra week to slot into the starting lineup.
Sporting: Messi scores in the 8th and Cesc picks up a knock in the 13th. Villa makes it 2-0 in he 25th and then Sanchez comes on at half time for Pedro and makes it 3-0 in the 50th. He then makes it 4-0 in the 74th to ensure that he gets a starting spot next week. Let’s hope Cesc is okay.
He’s not. 6 weeks out with a broken toe. Thiago will have to step up big time…only Iniesta has been declared fit! We’re saved! And not only that, but Rayo defeated RM 2-1 and we’re 3 points clear at the top. This is big!
@Racing: They’re 19th and we’ve got to win it, so it’s time to start a serious lineup. Messi, Pedro, and Villa are the attack while Puyol and Thiago Silva pair up in defense while Abidal returns to the starting lineup after a brief rest. It’s a slow game, with nothing really happening. Thiago Silva gets a yellow and then Villa scores in teh 32nd. Kennedy pegs back in the 35th and Villa is booked soon after. Keita gets injured, but doesn’t sub off because we’ve used all 3. And then Mascherano, having come on for Puyol, grabs a late, late winner! 1-2 and those could turn out to be very meaningful points. El Jefecito coming through with a goal? Whoddathunkit.
Keita’s injury is a Dead Leg Calf injury and he’ll be out for 2 days. Busi is back too, though, and will make his first start in the next match.
@Sevilla: 2 away matches in a row can be tough on a team. We’re still up just 3 points and it’s the 4th place team we’re visiting. Spahic and Luna are out for them while I have to put Villa on the bench for fitness reasons. Afellay comes on in his place while Alexis returns to the starting lineup in place of Pedro. Both have been playing well, but Afellay’s speed could be huge in this one. Busi does start and so does Pique after a week’s rest. Another slow-starting game (I’m impatient!), with Iniesta being booked in the 15th before Alexis scores in the 25th. Coke gets a red in the 44th and then we’re into cards and subs. Villa and Mascherano come on for Messi and Busi, respectively. Iniesta scores in the 73rd and that should seal it…and it does. 0-2 and another monster away victory.
Granada: The 14th placed team comes to visit and Messi and Villa sit atop the scoring chart with 16 and 14, respectively. That’s impressive from Villa, considering his time injured. We’re still up just 3 points on Madrid, so it’s time to put in another solid performance. Diakhate through suspension. Keita is booked early, but Messi scores in the 10th. A solid start. Alexis comes on for Villa at halftime and they pick up a couple of yellows. Pedro seals in the 87th with nice goal. Just 1 sub will leave the team tired for the weekend match at Mallorca, though.
Madrid dropped points! This time away to Villarreal in a 1-1 draw. That puts us 5 clear with 9 matches to play. Can we pull it off?
@Mallorca: Pedro, Messi, and Alexis start up front as Villa asked for the week off. Pereira is booked in the 18th and then Pique in the 43rd. This is looking like a 0-0 draw. And it turns out just like that. Apparently I forgot to put Villa in the reserves and he got subbed on in the 70th and did nothing. Dammit. That gives those 2 points right back.
Cesc is back from injury, though we’ll have to ease him into the lineup as he’s not match fit. Madrid have, indeed, closed the gap to 3 points and there’s no breathing room once again. 8 matches to play.
Athletic Bilbao: They’re starting a light lineup as Javi Martinez, San Jose, and Iturraspe are all injured. That’s rough, but they’ve still got a very, very potent strike squad and a 4-3-3. Messi scores in the very first minute! That is something, isn’t it. Villa grabs the second in the 42nd and the it’s halftime. Abidal and Busi are booked in the 2nd half before Messi scores his second and the team’s 3rd in the 86th. Phew.
Afellay has complained about his playing time. All right kid, let’s see what you’re made of over the next couple of weeks when we have midweek matches and a Copa del Rey final. Walk the walk, eh? Another 1-1 draw on the road for Madrid! This time it’s against Osasuna and we’re 5 points clear with just 7 matches to go. This could get extremely interesting.
@Zaragoza: This one is big, simply because we can put more pressure on Madrid. I’m starting a light lineup because we have a midweek match against Getafe. Pedro, Messi, and Afellay count as a “light” attack while Thiago gets to step into midfield to fill Iniesta’s boots while Cesc is injured. Adriano gets the LB spot as well. They’re missing Postiga and Edu Oriol through injury. Keita scores in the 3rd! What a way to begin. We’re really clicking early these days. They have Juan Carlos carted off in the 15th with what is obviously a nasty injury and then Pedro scores in the 31st. 0-2! Barrera gets one back in the 45th, in 1st half stoppage time, but in the 71st minute Pedro makes it 1-3. We should have this wrapped up now. Alexis subs on and then Luis Garcia puts one in to make it a nervy finish. Abidal and Villa both subbed on as well, but they do nothing of value. Fortunately it ends 2-3 and we get all the points.
We’re still up just 5 points and Adriano has been suspended for yellow card accumulation. We’re a pretty aggressive group, I’d say.
Getafe: This one could be a doozy, but they’re missing Diego Castro and Miguel Torres through suspension and Pedro Leon, Sarabia, and Sergio Garcia through injury. Those are going to be huge losses, you’d think. They’re starting Arizmendi and whoever the hell Hugo Fraile is up front. They’re still solid, though, and I’m starting Pedro, Messi, and Villa up front to put some goals between us. Abidal is injured and cared off in the 1st minute! Iniesta makes it 1-0 in the 4th and then Messi scores in the 20th. Lopo is sent off in the 45th for his second yellow. The second half starts and Messi, Pedro and Messi again round out the manita by the 75th minute. Abidal is the worry, though, as he’ll certainly miss next week’s Copa del Rey final.
Yup, Abidal tore his quad and he’ll be out for the rest of the season. Crap. Levante sit between us and the Copa final. Fortunately we’re up 8 points as Madrid succumbed to the obviously impossible scoreline of 1-0 while visiting the Vicente Calderon. Oh me oh my FIFA is certainly crazy. There are just 5 matches left, including one with Madrid.
@Levante: I’m taking the plunge and starting a weakened lineup: Valdes, Montoya, Mascherano, Thiago Silva, Fontas, Keita, Cesc, Thiago, Cuenca, Messi, Afellay. The bench is Adriano, Alexis, Pero, Bartra, Dani, JDS, and Pinto. Hopefully everyone arrives at the next match fit and good to go. Let’s see how this plays out. 3 points would be awesome. They’re missing Ruben suarezx and Juanlu. Mascherano gets an 8th minute red! Wtf! But Keita scores a goal in the 28th! Wow! Cuenca scores in the 59th! Afellay gets the team’s 3rd while down a man in the 84th!!! This is amazing! Adriano and Alexis came on in the 74th and 77th minutes, respectively, so everyone should be fairly rested, except, perhaps, for Messi. That performance may have wrapped up the league.
Mascherano gets a 2 match ban for his red, which will leave him out of the clasico. He’ll be a sad panda. We’re still 8 points clear going into the Copa del Rey Final.
Real Madrid (CDR Final): My lineup is Pinto, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Adrian, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, and Villa with a bench of Keita, Pedro, Cesc, Bartra, Thiago Silva, JDS, and Valdes. They’re coming at us with a 4-2-3-1 of Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Lucio, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Schweinsteiger, Di Maria, Cristiano, Ozil, and Benzema. Their bench is Adan, Coentrao, Albiol, Kaka, Khedira, Higuain, and Callejon. This is a titanic match up, winner take all. Here we go:
Marcelo is carded in the 11th and Ozil scores in teh 21st. Looking bad for us. Marcelo hits us for another in the 57th and then Higuain makes it a rout in the 68th. Sergio Ramos is carted off in the 89th, but it’s still a dismal performance and we’ve given up yet another title to Madrid. Sigh.
Real Madrid: We’re in our home stadium just days after that pounding by Madrid and let’s hope we take some revenge. Sergio Ramos is out injured, replaced in the lineup by Areloa. Kaka also steps into the starting lineup for Ozil while Sahin make it to the bench. I start Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Adrian, Busi, Xavi, Cesc, Alexis, Messi, and Pedro. Kaka scores in the 6th. They’v really got our number this year, don’t they? Pique gets injured in the 26th, but stays on. And then Adriano scores in the 43rd, but Benzema makes 1-2 in the 60th. Thiago Silva takes Pique’s place about 30 minutes too late. It’s looking like all she wrote and then Alexis wins the league for us with an 86th minute goal!
Pique has torn his ACL and will be out 4 months. Way to play on that for 1/3 of a game, buddy, though Fontas still has you beat for absurd things to do while injured.
@Rayo: So I said we’d won the league, but with 3 matches to play and up by 8 points we technically need 1 point to win it. We’ve got this, going up against 17th placed Rayo. We’ve had a week to rest and we can finish this here and now. The game starts and Tamudo scores! Oh man, that guy. Always messing with us. Busi is booked in the 27th and then Mascherano is inured in teh 43rd. Pacheco scores in the 60th and this one is going to be bad, isn’t it? 4-0? To Rayo? Javi Fuego gives us life in the 61st, though with his second yellow, but we can’t muster anything and go down 2-0. Argh! At least it wasn’t 4-0.
Busi is now suspended for accumulation of yellows and Mascherano will miss 7 days with a pulled hip flexor. Christ.
Espanyol: Wouldn’t they love to spoil our party, but we won’t let it happen! Madrid are 5 points back now and their eyes are shining. They’ve purchased Philippe Coutinho and Julio Baptista? Okay. Iniesta doesn’t care, he scores in teh 11th! Keita is injured in the 14th and then Thiago Silva scores his first goal for us in the 33rd. The rout is on in the 66th when Villa scores, but that is the last goal. We’re champions, and against Espanyol! This is quite a sweet victory. Unfortunately Keita, picked up a knock and will probably miss the rest of the season, which he’d be sitting out in favor of JDS anyway since we’ve won.
Keita got a bruise leg and will miss just 3 days. He’ll make the bench. Madrid ensures our victory with a 2-1 away loss to Granada! Oh yay!
@Betis: I’m starting Valdes, Montyoa, Fontas, Bartra, Adriano, JDS, Thiago, Cesc, Cuenca, Tello, and Afellay. This might turn out terribly or might turn out wonderfully. It’s kiddie day! Pozuelo puts them 1-0 up. Was this a mistake? Puyol subs in and gets injured pretty much immediately. Oy vey. Tello scoes! It’s 1-1 at full time and let’s hope Capi is okay.
Carles is out for 7 days with a Sprained Knee. That is called being a caveman.
I won the league, officially for real, and that means a big bonus for me!
Messi and Benzema end up sharing the scoring leader prize with 22 apiece. Imagine if that’s all it took to win La Liga’s scoring prize. Then maybe even Adrian would actually have a chance, though he was passed even in FIFA by Falcao in the end. Villa ended with 16 and wound up in 5th. Still a grand season. Cristiano ended up with 12, if you care about such things. The top 4 in the league: Barcelona, Madrid, Villarreal, Atleti. Interesting.
Will I survive the cut at Barcelona? That’s the question…my performance review is pending…I won the league and lost the Copa del Rey final. I also won Manager of the Season! How about that. Do I get to keep my job? Answer: Yes! I can stay with them for a meager salary increase, but no one else is particularly interested. That’s odd. Only Werder Bremen, Heart of Midlothian, Fiorentina, and Toulouse are interested and none of them are offering more than FCB. I think I’ll stick with my team, thank you very much.
It’s been a good year!